i’m the decider–not//not bees

yellowjacketThis is a yellow jacket, not a bee

sb10067340d-001This is a honeybee

bumblebeeThis is a bumblebee

A couple of weeks ago, the quasi-spouse and I went mushroom hunting at Priest Lake (in Idaho, USA) collecting about 20lbs of white chanterelles and two handfuls of masutaki.

Afterwards, we drive to Hill’s Resort for a well-earned beer. As we move onto the deck we see a sign taped to the door leading outside with a comic rendition of a bee. The sign reads something like this: Due to the excess of bees we will not be serving food on the deck.

Soon, we’re  sipping our drinks as we gaze at the gorgeous clear lake. A couple yellow jackets buzz around checking for edibles. I grouse to the quasi-spouse about the derogatory “bee” sign and how it never ceases to vex me that most people in all echelons of life—be they liberal or conservative, nature enthusiasts, loggers, scientists, urban guerrillas or art aficionados—call yellow jackets or hornets or wasps, bees.

They’re not BEES.

They’re closer to ants than bees. The only thing similar is that bees can sting but rarely do. For Pete’s sake, I’ve stood in the biennial swarm of honeybees that vacate the feral hive in my back chimney, and I’ve never been stung. When Dario was a toddler we’d caress both honey and bumble bees while they worked flowers. Yellow jackets or hornets never let you pet them; too territorial.

I’m pissy about this because we don’t SEE, we label. And often with careless jargon. We decide things are what we think they are, not what they actually are. We do this to moose, bears, snakes, spiders, children, Muslims, women, their boobs, mushrooms, southerners, wine, trees—you name it—ad nauseum and we do this ALL THE TIME.

Deciding how another feels, thinks or who they are, are inaccurate judgments and those judgments dismiss and negate Self and render others invisible—be they human or anything else. It’s a closed system designed by you and your biases, likes and dislikes. It matters not if you think someone’s the most adorable lovely person or a blockhead, or that yellow jackets are bees; each decision is defective.

We commonly practice this type of “deciding” in romantic relationships and about children and teenagers, but most egregiously with other species.

Observations are not the same thing as judgments. We all get to witness and deduce what we see. Intuit, not determine as reality. Stereotypes are short cuts for some observations but they’re not “true.” They’re “true-ish.” More on stereotypes in an upcoming post.

So, what can we do?

  • Use accurate language: a bee is a bee; a hornet is a hornet; a woman is a person; a child is a human.
  • Speak from your Self. What you like/dislike, fear/revere is yours and it’s not to be imposed on another as “fact.”
  • Whatever it is, is what it is. Accept “it” as it is.

ersatz-pseudo-quasi-emotions

roz-chast-updated-versions-of-the-stick-figure-smiley-s-new-yorker-cartoon

One of many problems with living within the patriarchal paradigm—be you female, male, flora or fauna—is that our emotional worlds are demoted to a second class, non-logical, weak place never to be visited. The ridiculousness of that stance can be illustrated by suggesting that eyes are superior to mouth or that fingers are better than toes. They’re all interdependent and anyone proposing that logic, without emotion, is the intelligent way to live isn’t participating in a functional relationship with themselves.

Simply put, the amygdala—part of the Limbic system—deals with fear responses, hormones, pleasure, aggression and emotional memories. The frontal lobe is equated with expressive language, motor skills, socialization, reasoning and higher level cognition like planning and impulse control. Pure intellect is unintelligible. How can the rational brain think or pursue a logical line of thought if it were not extensively in touch with our desires, fears, values, intentions?

Long-term stress predisposes changes in the amygdala and the frontal cortex which lead to anxiety and poor decision-making. This explains why decisions we make when we’re stressed out appear brilliant, but usually promise regret.

So what does this have to do with pseudo emotions? Well, if it’s unsafe to have real emotions, you’ve two basic choices: hide them or subconsciously fabricate look-alikes to appear to have them. Like Republicans who sport punk dress or the iconic wolf wearing a sheepskin or Chast’s “smileys” above, what passes for feelings in this narcissistically twisted “rational” world are head-based emotions.

All true feelings are experienced in the body.* Hence, when one is in genuine fear (not anxiety) the gut is often the physical base of fear. Love is often experienced as warmth in the stomach, not the over-sweet mind drivel that fashions fantasies of white knight heroes and male-sexualized women.

Here’s a list of ’emotions’ I believe originate in the mind and are commonly pawned off as authentic feeling:

  • sentimentality vs. love
  • doubt vs. questioning (quest)
  • guilt vs. responsibility (ability to respond)
  • duty vs. compassion
  • judgmental separation vs. personal boundaries
  • manipulation/withdrawing vs. connection
  • dread vs. fear
  • remembering vs. sensing
  • regret vs. understanding/lesson absorbed
  • victim-hood vs. hurting

Experiencing yourself as a victim is not being in your feelings. Just because you hurt doesn’t mean another has actually produced that ‘injury.’ Fear of pain is not the same thing as actual pain. An authentic threat will generate adrenaline but fear of fear is not authentic feeling, just a head-thought masquerading as emotion.

A paradigm that dismisses a cogent connection between heart and head is SO irrational that it logically could only have lead to this trashed planet forming the messy, indulgent, addicted, violent, cruel culture most of us are forced to interact with.

You’ll have to spend time rationally ruminating over the difference between real and perceived feelings since most of us are conditioned early on to ignore our physical signals in favor of head thought. We’ll need to harmonize the brain and the heart if we want accurate cognition and not ego/mind-driven lives. The body will be our guide.

*This doesn’t mean head-emotions don’t confuse or overburden the body and cause disease.

paying for it vs. buying it

When I was growing up, my sometimes irritated dad would snark—as a conversation stopper—“It’s my house, I make the money, I make the rules.” That never prevented a rebuttal. “What crap!” I’d say. (he was a kind man so you could rebut) See: rabble, rabble, rabble : : women create, men destroy)

Kids can’t make money for the upkeep of a house nor can babies, pets or plants in the garden. Doesn’t mean they have no worth or don’t offer ineffable gifts. (see planet death…and then there are honey bees) Just one more odious piece of the patriarchal paradigm insinuating that money trumps all ‘things’ in importance.

Sure, it’s often said that without cash how would we survive? but that’s only because we’re looking through a narrow financial lens. We could view the world differently. Environmentalists point at the huge disconnect between economical ecology and environmental ecology of, say, a forest and suggest we need to evaluate it for more than board price using ECO-currency. [Google it] Yes!

But back to family life. Recently a friend said while complaining about his wife, “I bought everything so it’s really all mine.”

O, sir—I seek to differ.

My friend may have paid for stuff but he didn’t buy most of it. She chose those curtains (sheets, towels, dishes, knickknacks, etc.), bought, brought them home, hung them up and maintains them. She decides what to make for dinner (for the week), does the shopping, cooks and shares it with him. And the stamps, cat medicine, groomed dog, kids shuttled and shod… Orchestrating/deciding/finding/choosing is the hardest part, not always the moolah.

I could go on but you get the point: most straight men don’t buy the majority of things for their home, their kids, that birthday party, etc. if they’re lucky enough to live with a woman. Somehow, many guys only see how they’ve made the money but are blind about how those funds were actually used and who did that unseen, culturally invisible service. It feels similar to how businesses uses art/music/writing to sell their goods but don’t value those arts as ‘real’ work.

I’d be happy to give men 25-40% less pay than they get now (women’s 2010 wages), have them be responsible for most household/child-rearing work and let them do the bulk of the choosing/buying/maintenance.

We’ll see if they still think the primary breadwinner “bought everything” and it’s all hers.